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Killing animals nicer
June 10, 2003 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Calls for a ban on Halal and Kosher slaughtered meat in the UK are being called an attack on religion or necessary to improve the welfare of farm animals... Where to start thinking about this? Take 1: Is there a vast right-wing, um, wait, left-wing, um wait, err, something-wing conspiracy against Muslims right now? Take 2: Is this a case of "colliding waves of political correctness"? Take 3: As a vegetarian (works for me, ain't gonna preach) the notion of killing animals nicer is kind of funny. Why couldn't we just survey the animals as they enter the slaughterhouse? "Slash to throat? Bolt to head? Electrocution? Thank you, drive through." Whichever way you look at the story, it just goes to show you, the world's a complicated place and you can't please anyone.
posted by lazywhinerkid (82 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
As a meat-eater (works for me, ain't gonna preach either) the notion of killing animals nicer is kind of funny for me too.
posted by Pericles at 10:00 AM on June 10, 2003


From the article: One rabbi, who had been practicing the Jewish method of animal slaughter for around 40 years, told BBC News: "The process takes a fraction of a second.

"With a very, very sharp knife all the vessels in the neck are severed and that means there's no blood going to the brain and the animal loses consciousness very rapidly and dies soon after that."

The Muslim Council of Britain says animals are not distressed when they are slaughtered.

"It's a sudden and quick haemorrhage. A quick loss of blood pressure and the brain is instantaneously starved of blood and there is no time to start feeling any pain," said spokesman Dr Majid Katme.


I'm just glad the two can agree on something. I have witnessed Halal butchering and it's pretty gruesome, but I can't imagine it's actually any more or less painful for the animal, if done correctly, than any other form. How would they measure such a thing? I have a feeling there is truth in the notion that Animal rights people are looking for a wedge and using Xenophobia as that wedge. That may be totally off the mark, but it is a possibility. After all, if their reccomendations were simply that all slaughter should be done in a manner that relieves the animal of pain, would it be in the news? Add the Muslim/Jewish angle and you're on the nightly news...
posted by cell divide at 10:08 AM on June 10, 2003 [1 favorite]


Putting animals before people. Brilliant. Studies have been done to show that electrocuting the animals slows down their electric functions in the critters minds, but pain studies haven't been done. How could they? Is there some sort of pain scale you can read off a cows lips? Seconds before the damn thing dies?

Is there any pain scale for cows I'm unaware of? Or other animals?

Personally, I think the idea of putting animal welfare before human welfare is offensive. And putting animal welfare before religious belief is to say, effectively, we don't care what you believe, you're wrong, we're right. Your deeply held beliefs don't mean a thing in the face of how this cow feels.

Offensive to Muslims and Jews alike.
posted by swerdloff at 10:08 AM on June 10, 2003 [2 favorites]


....the notion of killing animals nicer is kind of funny.

Amen. What you see at work is the enormous guilt of those who eat meat.

The best analogy to slaughtering helpless animals is child abuse. The powerful use and consume the voiceless and weak, then attempt to rationalize their hideous acts (including appeals to "religious beliefs").

Fot those who don't know, their exist much better alternatives to both child abuse and to killing sentient beings for food.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:12 AM on June 10, 2003


Really, F_A_M? What've you got that's yummier than bacon? Or a nice juicy steak? Tofu?
posted by swerdloff at 10:14 AM on June 10, 2003


I heard a segment on this on the World Service this morning. I can't believe people are arguing to what degree various methods of butchering are 'humane' or not. Interestingly, according to one of the interviewees, about 50% of aspiring kosher meat is rejected by the rabbi, and goes into the goyim foodchain, along with all the non-Kosher parts. The reporter mentioned something about people eating Kosher meat without realising it, which I thought a kind of creepy comment. Anyway, cat among the pigeons, etc.
posted by carter at 10:19 AM on June 10, 2003


Why not give them a choice, as in injection or firing squad? If you eat meat--and I love meat--you are going to eat something someone somehow has killed. If the method is bothersome, don't eat meat or fish or fowl. You eat. They die. Why get worried about how you get the dead critter to your tummy? In N. Korea, we learn this week, cannibalism is on the rise because of famine...yummy yummy
posted by Postroad at 10:21 AM on June 10, 2003 [1 favorite]


Yes, F_a_m, there are better alternatives. Let's kill the vegetables, the unsentient beings, the ones that can't think for themselves... Then who'll be picking on the weaker kid in the schoolyard?
posted by dazed_one at 10:29 AM on June 10, 2003


What've you got that's yummier than bacon? Or a nice juicy steak? Tofu?

swerdloff, have you tried any of the stuff we've got? I've tried bacon, I've tried steak. Many times. I know what I'm talking about in comparing them (and for me, there's no taste advantage to meat). If you haven't tried the various, and ever-increasing and -improving veggie options, from seitan to mushrooms to tempeh to TVP to whatever, your rhetorical question rings pretty hollow and knee-jerk. (If you have, though, I'd be interested in what the context was and what you thought of 'em.)

At any rate, the concept that we can't put animal welfare above people's "deeply held beliefs" is patently bogus. If it's my deeply held belief that I must torture stray cats with a blowtorch (in a soundproof basement, don't worry) for days until they die in unspeakable agony, does anyone have a right to tell me the cat's welfare takes precedence over my belief? Don't give me diversions about numbers-of-adherents or age-of-tradition or amount-of-time-animal's-in-agony. Either animal welfare can trump people's ritualistic fetishes or it can't. What do you say?
posted by soyjoy at 10:30 AM on June 10, 2003


Either animal welfare can trump people's ritualistic fetishes or it can't. What do you say?

Wait, so when I'm eating some thai food for lunch, and it happens to have chicken in it, I'm no longer eating lunch, but participating in a ritualistic fetish?

And they say the people who eat meat are nuts...
posted by SweetJesus at 10:46 AM on June 10, 2003


Soyjoy brings up an important (to me) point, perhaps inadvertantly, which is kind of at a meta-level to this specific issue: how do we, as a society, draw lines between choices or decisions best left to an individual and those that we make as a group (through one government or another)?

Sometimes this gets very confusing but if an understanding at the meta-level is arrived at, then presumably drawing lines in specific cases becomes a lot easier.

Of course I suppose this is the classical question of philosophy too, but have we here any new or useful ideas?
posted by billsaysthis at 10:50 AM on June 10, 2003


I find this issue sort of ironic, since I was always taught that the main purpose of kosher slaughter was to cause the animal the least amount of pain. In fact, causing an animal unnecessary pain (whether through slaughter or anything else) is strictly forbidden by Orthodox Judaism. Of course, if more humane methods of killing animals have come up in the last couple thousand years, it's more than a little possible that Orthodox Judaism is behind the times.
posted by callmejay at 11:00 AM on June 10, 2003


And they say the people who eat meat are nuts...

And they say the people who eat nuts are meat...

Let's stay on topic, though. The issue is whether something you folks consider non-negotiable - animals must die to feed us - needs to be drawn out into more cruel extremes in order to satisfy the dictates of one religion or another. My question is, simply, then where do you draw the line? There are a lot of religions and a lot of completely whacked-out ways they dictate for killing animals. Has nothing to do with Thai chicken, unless the Thai chefs were killing the chicken in some ritualistic way... right?
posted by soyjoy at 11:05 AM on June 10, 2003


Arguing for the sake of argument. I love it !
posted by a3matrix at 11:07 AM on June 10, 2003


Either animal welfare can trump people's ritualistic fetishes or it can't. What do you say?

I'll have my ritualistic fetishes rare please. With a side of lightly killed, then lovingly steamed veggies.
posted by dejah420 at 11:08 AM on June 10, 2003 [1 favorite]


Guiltless grill. Maddox being clever..

I don't hate animals, I just love plants.. Mmm..
posted by Mossy at 11:19 AM on June 10, 2003


a3matrix: Bravo!

I prefer to blow bong hits in the face of my meals for a solid hour before stoning the beast to death.
posted by Witty at 11:24 AM on June 10, 2003


So when the mean hawk swoops down on the poor widdle bunny wabbit, does that mean the hawk is evil and should instead wait till he can find a tofu hare?

I'd rather be slaughtered by a rabbi than thrown to the lions, incidently.
posted by konolia at 11:25 AM on June 10, 2003 [1 favorite]


Ritual slaughter tips and the ASPCA Pen. Temple Grandin's web page is excellent. Grandin was the focus of Errol Morris's Stairway to Heaven -- has anyone seen it?
posted by donth at 11:27 AM on June 10, 2003


"The best analogy to slaughtering helpless animals is child abuse."

Equating eating meat to child abuse is quite marvellous. A round of applause. I assume "meat is murder" and "carnivore = nazi" are both played out.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to skewer a 4 year old from the school next door for dinner.
posted by influx at 11:28 AM on June 10, 2003


Has nothing to do with Thai chicken, unless the Thai chefs were killing the chicken in some ritualistic way... right?

My point was, is that you were being just a tad melodramatic when it comes to your description of eating meat. Your sly equating of torturing a cat with a blow torch, with the "ritualistic fetish" of eating meat, was a nice touch. So if you ask a question designed to piss meat-eaters off, you'll get a silly answer.

But anyway, the fact is, if I were a cow, I'd much rather have a rabbi kill me, than be killed in a slaughter house. I've read "Fast Food Nation". In modern slaughter houses cows are sometimes bolted in the head, but don't die right away, and end up being carved apart while they're still alive. I'd imagine the Rabbi is a bit cleaner.

The issue is whether something you folks consider non-negotiable - animals must die to feed us

Personally, I think the Japanese have the right idea on this. They kill and eat everything, no matter how cute or cuddley, but they also eat a lot of vegetarian dishes, and a long vegetarian history. It's nice to be in a country where one is able to sit down and enjoy a plate of stewed whale with miso paste, and not have anyone complain about saving any animals.

But if it were up to me, we'd go back to Tudor style of eating - kill anything you see, and roast it on a spit.
posted by SweetJesus at 11:30 AM on June 10, 2003


I was just reading about this. It turns out there is no rightwing conspiracy, but "right" and "left" are products of a Satanic conspiracy originating with the Illuminati and having its main power base in New York financiers and intellectuals. They're trying to divide us into camps and pit us against each other, to pave the way for a one-world socialist capitalist government, i.e. Global Fascism!

Cognitive dissonance. The simple truth: someone in the British arm of the octopus has orchestrated this movement just to mess with our heads.

It is no coincidence that the Insiders financed both the Russian revolution and Hitler's rise to power. It is also important to note that The Nation and National Review were both founded by Skull and Bones members. They don't differentiate between "right" and "left," so why should we?

Personally, I love meat. In fact, my personal motto is, "Anything I kill, I eat." Hitler was a vegetarian. I'm not a vegetarian.
posted by son_of_minya at 11:33 AM on June 10, 2003


Wow, this is certainly a case of 'colliding waves of political correctness'. I assume that both these methods of slaughter had a more prosaic purpose when they first began - possibly for reasons of hygiene? But to follow them , er, religiously, would seem to be as rational as following all of the laws layed down in Leviticus to heart. which includes 'Never eat meat that has not been drained of its blood' but also 'Do not wear clothing woven from two different kinds of fabric' and various others strictures involving what to do when a woman has her period (see this previous MeFi thread). Many of the ideas here still make sense but many of them don't and it would seem to me that ritual methods of slaughter fall into the latter category. I don't think that this is about putting animals before people unreasonably - Soyjoy put it well and if it is all for one omnipotent being then surely only one of the methods is right and the other is causing needless pain.

As for killing animals nicer - it may seem strange to some but in a society in which the majority eat meat I think it's good that we try to make the lives (and deaths) of the animals involved as painless as possible.

Bear in mind that is in the UK where the native religions tend to be fairly liberal and there is a tendency to strike a balance between accepting other cultures whilst expecting an acceptance of some arbitrary notion of fair play (i.e. eat cows and pigs but not dogs or horses, don't ask me why).
posted by jamespake at 11:35 AM on June 10, 2003


i.e. eat cows and pigs but not dogs or horses, don't ask me why

You don't know what you're missing. Horse is really, really good. Haven't tried dog yet, though.
posted by SweetJesus at 11:39 AM on June 10, 2003


Comparing kosher slaughter to torchuring cats with a blowtorch is the same rhetorical sledgehammer that christian fundamentalists use when they bring up incest and beastiality when railing against same-sex rights.

Besides, it misses the main gripe that animal rights people should ahve, and that's the part where the animal is raised in a box. Frankly the slaughtering part is probably a relief, if indeed the animal knows any better, of which I'm not really convinced.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:43 AM on June 10, 2003 [1 favorite]


Silly vegetarians.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 11:46 AM on June 10, 2003


jamespake - as a muslim I'd say I have not as yet found any guidelines in the Qu'ran that have gone against what I find logical and reasonable (although, of course, on occasion I've gone 'eh? what?' and then found a good explanation via the wonder that is google).

But hey, thats just me - is the Old Testament meant to be taken literally anyway?

The Qu'ran is meant to be the direct word of God, so it is - not sure about the Torah/Talmud.

Aaah, back to work and burgers..
posted by Mossy at 11:52 AM on June 10, 2003


Comparing kosher slaughter to torchuring cats with a blowtorch is the same rhetorical sledgehammer that christian fundamentalists use when they bring up incest and beastiality when railing against same-sex rights.

The straw men are piling up here at a furious rate. The post you replied to didn't compare the two; it was a response to the blanket claim that the right to perform religious rituals always trumps the desire to minimze animal suffering.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:03 PM on June 10, 2003


Mossy - I haven't read the Qu'ran, so be patient - can you tell me why meat has to be eaten Halal style?

Konolia - I hope you hunt and kill all your own meat otherwise your point doesn't have one.

Son_of_Minya- Godwin's law is invoked.

Actaully, this thread is making me reconsider my meat eating. Good post lazywhinerkid!
posted by jamespake at 12:04 PM on June 10, 2003


Severe trauma is painless... especially when, once the traumatic part is over, you're dead and the pain hasn't had a chance to set in. So unless an animal is being slowly pin-pricked to death, I doubt that there's any pain involved at all.
posted by Witty at 12:08 PM on June 10, 2003


Jamespake, thanks for making the point about there being two mutually exclusive "divine" traditions behind this. It's funny how many Mefites piled onto that quasi-Fred-Phelps thread to trash the supposed authority of religious laws, but when it comes to animals, it seems, religious laws are to be taken more seriously.

And son_of, not that it would mean anything if he were, but Hitler was not a vegetarian. I know it's a fun sound bite, but it's time to retire it.
posted by soyjoy at 12:15 PM on June 10, 2003


there's no taste advantage to meat

Puh-leeeeze. You must have scorched your steak to a crisp with that blowtorch you're so fond of to get it to taste like soyburger. Try it medium-rare sometime and then get back to me.

Severe trauma is painless... especially when, once the traumatic part is over, you're dead and the pain hasn't had a chance to set in.

Right on, Witty. I'm totally against pin-pricking animals to death. And that blowtorch thing, I'm against that, too.
posted by David Dark at 12:17 PM on June 10, 2003


jamespake - its pretty, you should read it. Meat prepared 'halal-style' follows a set series of steps - a clean incision with a knife at the throat while saying thanks to God for one (after all, its good to be thankful). This is meant to ensure minimal suffering for the animal amongst other things.

Whether or not you want to eat meat is left up to the individual - the only thing indicated is that if you do, you should do so in moderation (as with most things). Also, if an animal is to be killed, it should be for food or a rightful reason (if lifethreatening for example).

Some bits on halal slaughter. A quick blurb on the scientific tests to have a look at its humaneness. Search for more indepth analysis - Mossy should be studying!
posted by Mossy at 12:18 PM on June 10, 2003 [1 favorite]


If the method is bothersome, don't eat meat or fish or fowl. You eat. They die. Why get worried about how you get the dead critter to your tummy?

Well, because I find life and death to be meaningless. One's life is temporal anyway; your life, and the life of any plant or animal, will end at some point in time and existence will cease for you or that organism. It's inevitable, so why worry about it?

On the other hand, the unpleasant part of life is undesired pain, and we should strive to reduce this pain for all animals, human or otherwise. So if you're going to kill an animal to eat it, fine, but do it as nicely as possible. I'm going to die, great, but I'd rather go suddenly in my sleep than be boiled alive (as many pigs are killed for the meat industry).
posted by The Michael The at 12:20 PM on June 10, 2003


I was under the impression the Most Holy God put animals on this planet so we could tie them, break their legs, hoist them up by their broken back legs, slit their throats, and allow the blood to slowly drain from the screaming animal until it dies.

This is what God intended, for it is written.
posted by the fire you left me at 12:21 PM on June 10, 2003


Although to be fair to God, the animal only screams while you break its legs, as slitting the windpipe as it sways from its chains mutes any resistant clamor.
posted by the fire you left me at 12:27 PM on June 10, 2003


Konolia - I hope you hunt and kill all your own meat otherwise your point doesn't have one.

Of course I have a point. Why is it okay for the hawk to have meat for dinner but if I do I'm a murderer?

Altho I do admit to some squeamishness. As I type this I can look over to see our pet guinea pig. In Peru, as it has been for thousands of years, guinea pig is what's for dinner. My daughter's half-Peruvian friend visited relatives there recently and was horrified to learn what was on her plate.

Moral of the story: If you're gonna eat it, don't name it.
posted by konolia at 12:34 PM on June 10, 2003


It's funny how many Mefites piled onto that quasi-Fred-Phelps thread to trash the supposed authority of religious laws, but when it comes to animals, it seems, religious laws are to be taken more seriously.

To me, this argument has nothing to do with religion - the religion aspect merely serves to pull people into hypocritical murky waters. But, if I'm reading you right, Soyjoy, and correct me if I'm wrong, I'd wager that you believe that killing any animal for any purpose would be wrong, correct?

If this is indeed true, than why would it matter to your argument if the animal was killed for religious purposes, food purposes, entertainment purposes, or any other purpose? The animal would still be dead, and you would consider this, for lack of a better word, "wrong". The religion thing is just a red herring.

I may sound like a dick, but I put my health and well being above that of every animal. I don't kick cats for the hell of it, but I like a nice steak now and again. I used to have some respect for vegetarians, but that was destroyed by the smug sense of moral superiority and self-satisfaction (displayed by some in this thread) that most militant vegans and vegetarians have.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:37 PM on June 10, 2003


Why is it okay for the hawk to have meat for dinner but if I do I'm a murderer?

Well, for one thing, a hawk is a carnivore, which must eat meat to survive, you're not, and needn't. Secondly, no one on this thread has said it's "murder," so don't qo creating false equivalencies to knock down. And third, and most important, because neither I nor any other so-called "animal rights" advocate is conversing with hawks about their moral systems and/or lack thereof.

SweetJesus, what I consider right or wrong in a general sense is beyond the scope of this thread. I'm trying to keep on topic, which is whether the (possibly necessary, possibly unnecessary) act of killing needs to be done in a way that results in demonstrable cruelty in order to satisfy religious law. I answer that question this way: No, it does not. You?

Good to see David Dark has tried all the meat alternatives in order to make that taste comparison. After all, I've tried medium rare - again, many times - and my assessment stands. Oh, and extra points for working the blowtorch in.
posted by soyjoy at 12:46 PM on June 10, 2003


If you haven't tried the various, and ever-increasing and -improving veggie options, from seitan to mushrooms to tempeh to TVP to whatever, your rhetorical question rings pretty hollow and knee-jerk.

I was a vegetarian for 7 years. I ate all those things at least once. I didn't like seitan or tempeh much. TVP or regular ol' tofu can be excellent in the right dish if prepared by someone who knows how.

There's a lot of good vegetarian food out there, and omnivores shouldn't turn their nose up at it. But there is no replacement for prime rib or real bacon.
posted by Foosnark at 12:46 PM on June 10, 2003


Mossy - that was very interesting - your first link seems to suggest that meat-eating is not good and that Halal is sort of an exception which, in turn, would seem to suggest that halal should not be used as an everyday method for slaughtering.
The Messenger of Allah was heard forbidding to keep waiting a quadruped or any other animal for slaughter....The Holy Prophet(s) said to a man who was sharpening his knife in the presence of the animal: 'Do you intend inflicting death on the animal twice - once by sharpening the knife within its sight, and once by cutting its throat?'

My question - Is Halal carried out with such considerations today? (Sorry, I should let you get back to your studies).
This also seems to suggest that ideas like this (linked from the original post) go against the whole spirit of Halal.
posted by jamespake at 12:51 PM on June 10, 2003


it was a response to the blanket claim that the right to perform religious rituals always trumps the desire to minimze animal suffering.

That was the first occurance of 'always' that I came across.

Anyway, people who strictly held religious convictions have the same basis as the belief that killing animals for food is an evil act. Somebody dreamed it up one day, told a few people, it snowballed and now we've got a bunch of zealots.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:53 PM on June 10, 2003


jamespake: Actaully, this thread is making me reconsider my meat eating. Good post lazywhinerkid!

You've seen through my part in the massive veggie conspiracy... I'll have to veil my true ambitions more sneakily next time. ;)

The Michael The: One's life is temporal anyway; your life, and the life of any plant or animal, will end at some point in time and existence will cease for you or that organism. It's inevitable, so why worry about it?

That's an interesting point. I've actually never really though of it that philosophically before. The only problem I think I have with it is then why should we care then about any life? I want your wallet to buy better quality veggie burgers, so I shoot you and take it. I mean, you were gonna die at some point anyway...

My opinionated take back on the main topic is that the guidelines layed down by the Qu'ran and the Torah were probably very necessary to people in the time they were written. Some stuff makes sense for the propagation of the Jewish nation in times with no sense of the spread of disease, etc. or really, the knowledge from the past that we have today. I don't eat meat but a lot of other people are going to (though I'm subverting the Man and trying to sneak in vegetarian propaganda when I can). I guess I'd rather see what appears to be a cleanlier life and less painful death option for the animals that are treated as a commodity... Is it better? A grudging... erm... i guess so...
posted by lazywhinerkid at 12:54 PM on June 10, 2003


Debate aside, its kind of cool to read an article about Muslims and Jews agreeing on something. Maybe there's hope after all.


Nah.
posted by MetalDog at 12:57 PM on June 10, 2003


I used to have some respect for vegetarians/meat-eaters, but that was destroyed by the smug sense of moral superiority and self-satisfaction (displayed by some in this thread) that most militant vegetarian/meat-eaters have.

I've seen both sides of this coin and, in my experience, meat-eaters win on both the smug-superiority and self-satisfaction fronts.
posted by jamespake at 1:00 PM on June 10, 2003


SweetJesus, what I consider right or wrong in a general sense is beyond the scope of this thread. I'm trying to keep on topic, which is whether the (possibly necessary, possibly unnecessary) act of killing needs to be done in a way that results in demonstrable cruelty in order to satisfy religious law. I answer that question this way: No, it does not. You?

We're not talking about killing in the name of religious law in the same way the Aztec's used to sacrifice humans to appease the gods, we're talking about quickly slitting the throat of a pig or cow or whatever, to be used as food. I still believe your instance on adding religion into this takes away from the overall argument - is it morally right to kill an animal. People can find justifications for both sides of the argument in religion.

But quite frankly, the whole thing is Darwin in action. The strongest will survive, and prey on the weak. This is how nature works, and to deny it silly. Right now, we're on the top of the food chain, and we pretty much get to do what we want. If someday, some other species is on top, than we better be prepared to become dinner.

I've seen both sides of this coin and, in my experience, meat-eaters win on both the smug-superiority and self-satisfaction fronts

Not even close, in my experience. Most people who eat meat don't try and pressure others into eating meat too. On the other hand, even in this thread, there are vegetarians taking the supposed "moral highground" to tell me that eating meat is wrong, and I should stick to vegetables.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:05 PM on June 10, 2003


That should be "insistence"
posted by SweetJesus at 1:06 PM on June 10, 2003


I want your wallet to buy better quality veggie burgers, so I shoot you and take it. I mean, you were gonna die at some point anyway...

Good point. It goes much deeper than vegetarianism, into realms of self-determination and issues of equality and difference between people and animals. Since we're not going to go into this in such detail, I guess the least moral we could derive from this is be kind to everyone as much as possible to reduce pain and suffering.
posted by The Michael The at 1:07 PM on June 10, 2003


the notion of killing animals nicer is kind of funny.

I disagree. Actually, this is the most interesting thing I've ever read on the issue.
posted by blueshammer at 1:12 PM on June 10, 2003


jamespake - I don't see how the first link indicates that meat eating is undesireable. From my perspective it indicates that should an animal be used for food, it should not be made to undergo undue suffering - not having them tied up and being made to wait/slaughter in the presence of other animals for example.

This indicates nothing about the acceptability/unacceptability of meat consumption, merely that you shouldn't cause undue suffering in doing it - as muslims undue suffering of anything is frowned upon (golden rule holds here too..). Like I said, there is no indication as to whether meat consumption is preferable to a vegetarian diet - but I should have mentioned that it is, indeed permissable for humans to consume animals, within the guidelines provided. Some festivals also indicate that meat may be used - Eid-ul-Adha for example. Although you don't have to, of course.

As a point of clarification - halal means something that is permitted when following an Islamic way of life, haram is something that is prohibited by Allah in life - murder/adultery/and so on and so on. Thus an animal's death for the cause of food is only halal, and thereby something which a muslim may eat, if those strictures are followed - ie no unecessary suffering/distress. Some things are haram (ie not permissable to eat) no matter how killed - carnivores and pigs for example. Also, animals that have died naturally are not permissable to eat.

I can't vouch for all Halal butchers - someone could claim to be a halal butcher but use a bolt method for example. However, there are some bodies that check slaughter practice to see if it is halal. Kosher meat is prepared under extremely strict accordance - it also has more rules than Halal meat preparation though I do believe (any Jews care to fill us in?).

The article you linked calls for an increase in halal slaughter to respond to the extra demand in the market - simple economics. This woudl be favourable from an Islamic viewpoint as any animals that have been slaughtered would have been slaughtered from position of less suffering than otherwise - and also giving thanks to Allah. Slaughter in a different way is just random killing, after all..

Ahh, dinner break over - lamb burgers, mm...
posted by Mossy at 1:14 PM on June 10, 2003 [1 favorite]


We may be 'on the top of the food chain' but shouldn't we also be on the moral high ground? Assuming we're the only species in a position to question such issues, shouldn't we do so? That's why I get annoyed about arguments about hawks and tigers - we're not hawks and tigers, we can kill all the hawks and tigers tomorrow if we want to, but that doesn't mean we should. For most people, eating meat is like Soylent Green - they don't question its origin. The fact is that factory farming is pretty damned horrible - I'm not so much against eating meat as the method by which most of it is produced. And, sweetjesus, we each have our experience and in mine meat-eaters have been the pushy ones.

Mossy - I was referring to the first sentence of your link 'Meat-eating is neither encouraged nor even recommended by Islam' and the fact that I doubt that modern Halal slaughterhouses observe the principles outlined, given commercial needs.
posted by jamespake at 1:18 PM on June 10, 2003


Blueshammer - that's an interesting link and sort of sums up my own views quite well.
posted by jamespake at 1:28 PM on June 10, 2003


...meat-eaters have been the pushy ones.

Nah... probably just the more sarcastic and stubborn.

...we're not hawks and tigers,

And yet, animals indeed.

Well, for one thing, a hawk is a carnivore, which must eat meat to survive, you're not, and needn't.

But we're not herbivores either, which you've conveniently left out.
posted by Witty at 1:29 PM on June 10, 2003


Not even close, in my experience. Most people who eat meat don't try and pressure others into eating meat too.

I don't know about that. Just today, at the local sandwich stand:

Me: "Veggie burger, please."
Server: "One veggie burger... WITH BACON! HAW HAW HAW!"

This is just a mild example of the sort of "you're not going along with everyone else, so I'm going to point that out loudly" pressure that vegetarians deal with, all the time. I don't mind that sort of thing too much, but I've also had people actually get up in my face about it... and nothing ruins lunch faster than some yahoo who's seriously upset that everyone doesn't eat the way he does.
posted by vorfeed at 1:31 PM on June 10, 2003


Besides, it misses the main gripe that animal rights people should have, and that's the part where the animal is raised in a box.

i second that motion. humans are meat-eaters. have been for millenia. the nice thing about dietary laws is that some humans have recognized one's taking of another's life to sustain one's own. it's an attempt, at least, of paying respect.

the entire process from birth to death to dinner table of a factory-farmed animal is devoid of spirit. we lack respect. most meat-eaters compound the disrespect with ignorance. this, in my opinion, is where vegetarians should focus our efforts and why the Farm Animal Welfare Council is barking up the wrong tree.
posted by danOstuporStar at 1:31 PM on June 10, 2003 [1 favorite]


I don't mind that sort of thing too much, but I've also had people actually get up in my face about it... and nothing ruins lunch faster than some yahoo who's seriously upset that everyone doesn't eat the way he does.

Exactly the way I feel about the militant vegetarians. Of course, I'm sure my side has it's fair share of jerks as well.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:36 PM on June 10, 2003


vorfeed: Veggie burgers with bacon taste awesome. It's got a little bit of meat for that great taste without filling you up so much. I order them almost all the time and get funny looks. I don't know why more people don't eat them....
posted by greasepig at 1:38 PM on June 10, 2003


Silly people, all that pain makes the beef "extra-tender". In fact it's been scientifically proven that if you taunt the cow for several hours and even hit it with a blunt object before the slaughter, the meat is 41% MORE tender! It's a fact.
posted by CrazyJub at 1:46 PM on June 10, 2003


Actaully CrazyJub, even an autistic person could see that you're wrong.
posted by jamespake at 1:53 PM on June 10, 2003


I believe that in our lifetimes, people will no longer eat animals. However, they will still eat meat. Soon it will be more economically sound to simply grow meat in laboratories. There will be some resistance at first, but eventually 99% of the meat consumed on the planet will be created by man.
posted by cell divide at 1:58 PM on June 10, 2003


It's too bad that this thread devolved into the standard 'vegetarianism is better! No, meateating is better!' repartee.

Killing an animal for food is a choice, and as with anything else, your choice is your own.

I think the missing ingredient here is respect. Respect for the living and dying conditions of the animal. If you choose to participate in the taking of a life, buy/eat animals that have had healthy, normal, 'happy' lives. And who have been killed swiftly and with a minimum of fear. It's part of being a responsible human being.
posted by widdershins at 2:23 PM on June 10, 2003 [1 favorite]


I want your wallet to buy better quality veggie burgers

And what would my wallet do with better quality veggie burgers, once it has bought them?
posted by kindall at 3:05 PM on June 10, 2003


vorfeed: Veggie burgers with bacon taste awesome. It's got a little bit of meat for that great taste without filling you up so much. I order them almost all the time and get funny looks. I don't know why more people don't eat them....

heh, I agree that it sounds tasty - I'm vegetarian for health reasons, not ideological ones, so I don't mind eating a small amount of meat here and there. Bacon is definitely one of those foods that hasn't been properly replicated for vegetarians, IMHO. At least Boca started making veggie bratwursts, though... mmm, brats.

What really bugs me about it is the smug sense of "I'm allowed to laugh at you now, because you're not normal" that these kind of jokes reveal. After I started to order vegetarian meals, I was honestly surprised at just how often I get that kind of thing. Do Catholics have to deal with assholes going "Fish plate... WITH BEEF! HA HA!" on Fridays? It's kind of bizarre.
posted by vorfeed at 3:21 PM on June 10, 2003 [1 favorite]


Silly people, all that pain makes the beef "extra-tender". In fact it's been scientifically proven that if you taunt the cow for several hours and even hit it with a blunt object before the slaughter, the meat is 41% MORE tender! It's a fact.

I doubt it.
For example:
One reason I think that deerhunting with dogs is stupid is that adrenaline rush ruins the meat. If you're gonna throw Bambi on the barbie, shoot from a deer stand. Yum.

I have no beef (ha) with vegetarians- But I HAVE noticed that most of the vegetarians I have known have been pale-complected-I understand you have to be really diligent in balancing a vegetarian menu, and maybe they weren't.

I do like tofu tho.
posted by konolia at 3:22 PM on June 10, 2003


People who don't eat meat are okay by me, I just don't want them shoving it in my face all the time. I don't see why they insist on trying to shove it down the throat of every stranger they might see in the park. Whatever they do in the privacy of their own home is their business.

I see no reason to ban any form of eating practice so long as it's not dangerous to others. Isn't it possible that we could have our animals, and eat them, too?
posted by son_of_minya at 3:42 PM on June 10, 2003


I doubt it.

*sigh* imparting the gift of sarcasm comprehension will be my greatest comtribution to humanity, once I figure out how.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:43 PM on June 10, 2003


Good to see David Dark has tried all the meat alternatives in order to make that taste comparison.

I have. They suck. Comparitively, that is. I can eat them, but I'm not going to enjoy them. My vegetarian friends will say that they like them, or they don't mind them, but none would try to say that it's better than or on par with steak. That's ridiculous. Or your taste buds are dead, in which case, you're not qualified to make comparisons.

Hi, my name is David Dark and I'm a Carnivore. Pleased to meet you.

Human beings: the only species ever stupid enough to question its position in the food chain.
posted by David Dark at 3:53 PM on June 10, 2003 [1 favorite]


David Dark:

Would rather not give the appearance of supporting vegetarianism and all the various vices that come with it, but I do take factual issue with this comment.

I have. They suck.

Nothing should ever be molded into the shape of another food and passed off as the real thing. That is artificial, processed food, which one would think vegetarians would be opposed to. This logical inconsistency in their ideology points to more sinister motivations which lurk beneath the surface. It also tastes horrible.

However, there is one meat alternative that I think you're missing out on: Texturized Vegetable Protein.

It's just soy beans -- nothing offensive about that -- and its flavor entirely depends on what you cook it with. TVP chili is damn good. It's all-natural, affordable, and can be added to just about anything. IMHO, it's the best thing since powdered protein drinks.
posted by son_of_minya at 4:14 PM on June 10, 2003


Trying to add some more details for Mossy here:

kosher = clean, complying with the laws of kashrut, cleanliness.

It is the job of the shochet (slaughterman) to observe the laws of slaughter (shechita).

These involve inspection of the animal for signs of disease and imperfection before slaughter; killing the animal humanely; reciting the blessing; and inspecting the carcase for signs of disease and imperfection after slaughter.

Each of these things are prescribed in great detail, eg what skin blemishes do or don't require rejecting the animal, the length and sharpness of the slaughterman's knife, where the butcher should inspect for lesions on internal organs, etc. It's pretty complicated, which is why in small communities the rabbi is the only one qualified to slaughter. A lot of these requirements are so trivial (by modern gentile standards) that carcases that have been rejected by the shochet still pass meat inspection regulations.

Incidentally, the phrase "glatt kosher" refers to the requirement that animals have no adhesions on their lung surfaces, "glatt" being Yiddish for smooth and referring to the smooth surface of a healthy lung. People who are glatt kosher are those who are sticklers for the fine details of ritual observance.

I seem to remember (haven't got time to look it up) that one of the objections to mechanical stunning and bolt slaughter is that they may introduce imperfections to the carcase that render it ritually unclean.

Here in New Zealand we use electrical stunning, and I've often wondered if that would be ritually acceptable.

I used to work in the meat industry, and my Dad has taught animal welfare courses, and I can tell you that scientists do real research on slaughter techniques, measuring brain activity and hormonal and chemical responses to try and infer how much distress different techniques cause. Cattle lose consciousness after about 5 seconds if their throat is cleanly cut. They do display some shock, but whether it's pain we can't really know. Since the Masai get away with it, and very clean cuts don't hurt, I suspect it is in fact reasonably painless, as long as the slaughterer doesn't cut too far and has a gentle manner. That brings us to the real problem with ritual slaughter, which is that the painlessness with throat cutting relies on the skill of the slaughterman and is not easy to automate. Stunning + bolt methods are easy to incorporate into an automated killing chain.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:08 PM on June 10, 2003 [1 favorite]


blueshammers link is to me - a committed veggie - the most sensible article on the ethics of food in this day & age.

Even makes me contemplate meat eating again...

nah, still too queasy.
posted by dash_slot- at 5:19 PM on June 10, 2003


'People who don't eat meat are okay by me, I just don't want them shoving it in my face all the time. I don't see why they insist on trying to shove it down the throat of every stranger they might see in the park. Whatever they do in the privacy of their own home is their business.'

I agree son_of_minya, but then isn't that the case for anyone evangelising with an agenda?

Good points, vorfeed.

the fire you left me, what is this about broken back legs in ritual slaughter? You have evidence?
posted by asok at 5:22 PM on June 10, 2003


*sigh* imparting the gift of sarcasm comprehension will be my greatest comtribution to humanity, once I figure out how.

But this is Metafilter, hon. People say things like that every day and mean them.

Have you ever tried venison on the grill? Ahhhhh....
posted by konolia at 5:38 PM on June 10, 2003


I grew up on a farm, and farm people are rarely sentimental about animals. You treat them well while they're alive, kill them in the most merciful way possible, and then roast to a turn and enjoy with some baked taters and fresh garden produce. Yum, yum.

Animals in the wild usually lead short and brutish lives. They starve to death, or are killed and eaten by another animal. Or perhaps they succumb to illness. Rabies is a particularly unpleasant way to go. The cows and pigs on my dad's - and now my brother's - farm, by contrast, lead nice easy lives with plenty of food, medicine when they were sick, assistance in giving birth, and a warm place to sleep at night. Their pens were a humane size and the cattle at least had lots of room to roam when put out to pasture. And when the end came it took five seconds.

If I had my choice of those two lives, I know which one I'd pick.
posted by orange swan at 6:18 PM on June 10, 2003 [1 favorite]


About that blueshammer link:
Slowly but surely, the white man's circle of moral consideration was expanded to admit first blacks, then women, then homosexuals. In each case, a group once thought to be so different from the prevailing ''we'' as to be undeserving of civil rights was, after a struggle, admitted to the club. Now it was animals' turn.
That's an Ali G bit. "100 years ago, women couldn't vote. Is it possible, that one day animals might get the vote? Why not? They is human beings, too."

asok: "Evangilizing? I was talking about the blokes who hang out by da public restroom in the park by me house. They's always trying to shove things down me throat, but I don't want no part a that. Me uncle Jamal says they is all vegetarians, and dat is why they always smell like soy burgers."
posted by son_of_minya at 6:22 PM on June 10, 2003


Oh, meat eaters are way, way more smug and snarky then veggis.
posted by delmoi at 7:48 PM on June 10, 2003


Silly people, all that pain makes the beef "extra-tender". In fact it's been scientifically proven that if you taunt the cow for several hours and even hit it with a blunt object before the slaughter, the meat is 41% MORE tender! It's a fact.

Chuckle you may, but here in Korea one of the primary arguments people use who would try to stop the eating of dogs (while carefully attempting, as people do to avoid appearing to be judgemental about 'culture') is that the animals are frequently beaten to death, as it's believed unquestioningly that the trauma and fear as the dog dies makes the meat tenderer and more infused with the mythical dick-stiffening goodness that the pooch-eaters so value.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:47 PM on June 10, 2003


stav - good point. Thanks. A perfect example of how a "deeply held belief" about the manner of killing shouldn't automatically trump animals' interests (because - news flash - deeply held beliefs can be ka-koo-koo-crazy!). Strike my cat-and-blowtorch example and refer to this instead.
posted by soyjoy at 10:31 PM on June 10, 2003


This is the one (metafilter-debated) issue that fold and mutilate and I agree on.
posted by shoos at 12:15 AM on June 11, 2003


But I HAVE noticed that most of the vegetarians I have known have been pale-complected-I understand you have to be really diligent in balancing a vegetarian menu, and maybe they weren't.

I was a vegetarian for 12 years and didn't look or feel any different from now (I've been eating meat for about 8 years) and I can't say I've noticed any other veggies looking particularly ill. A vegetarian diet can be very, very varied. You're getting all your vits and mins from veggies, fruits and dairy and protein from eggs, cheese, nuts, tofu etc. Something like the Atkins diet, for example, is much more dangerous and deficient.
posted by Summer at 2:32 AM on June 11, 2003


Nothing should ever be molded into the shape of another food and passed off as the real thing. That is artificial, processed food

How do burgers, sausages, rissoles, boudin and other dishes that were originally designed to disguise the use of poor quality and superficially unappetising meat products fit into this argument, if you don't mind me asking?

You'd probably be surprised how many omnivores are unprepared to eat meat products - trotters, whole sardines, hearts, suckling pig - that really actually do look like what they are.
posted by bifter at 4:04 AM on June 11, 2003


bifter: I never defended sausages. They fall completely outside the argument over "food products designed to pass as other food products" like veggie burgers. I will agree with you, though, when it comes to factory processed sausages like hot dogs. That is some nasty stuff. Processed, canned vegetable products with artificial ingredients are nasty as well.

There is only one nasty meat product I can think of that's analogous to a veggie burger: Krab, artificial crab. I do equally condemn krab and veggie burgers, as processed foods designed to be passed off as another food.

This is by no means a contradiction of what I wrote. It's not an argument with you either. I'm just responding to the question.

On the "whole" meat products: It depends on where you're buying them. That pickled stuff on the shelf at the grocery store is nasty. All the stuff you mentioned is great if prepared properly.
posted by son_of_minya at 2:17 PM on June 11, 2003


Ah! See where you're coming from now - it's the TVP thing...

I sort of agree in principle I think, but in practice can't really make myself care that much about it one way or the other.

Just being devil's advocate (& I'm not spoiling for a fight either... ;-)), it's worth bearing in mind that the Chinese have been making "mock" meat-style dishes for vegetarian buddhists for centuries, without any sort of mass factory processing (e.g. mock Peking Duck is made with the skin that forms on the surface of soya milk, dried, smoked, seasoned and folded several times with spring onions). It's good stuff, and a pretty small step to be honest from something wholesome, traditional but meat-like (e.g. tempeh) to a modern veggie burger.

On the whole meat issue, we probably agree. If I still eat meat then I don't think I'd be too squeamish (probably drawing the line at eyeballs or tripe), but it's an (observational) fact that simply **loads** of people go to as much effort as possible to process their dinner in a way that doesn't make them think too hard about where it came from. This is where the newspaper columnists and discussion group blowhards (sorry... sorry... not you son_of_minya... **tugs forelock**) need to recognise that their proudly trumpeted appetite for steak with the hide still on, straight from the cow's arse - while impressively manly and arousing - isn't actually shared by as many of their fellow omnivores as they think.
posted by bifter at 2:59 PM on June 11, 2003


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